Monday, December 3, 2007

And That's When I Set Myself on Fire... Part 1

Advent has arrived, and Christmas is right around the corner. So, as a Presbyterian, that means that is it time to get out the Advent Wreath for use in the sanctuary. I would have never guessed that there could be so much drama surrounding the Advent Wreath! But, in the last 2 years, I have discovered that -- if you're lucky -- there can be interesting adventures to be had when it comes to the setting up and lighting of the Advent Wreath.

Let's begin with what happened last year. At the church I am currently serving, it had been the tradition in the last several years to hang the Advent Wreaths from the ceiling. Notice that I said "had". In the chapel, the wreath was suspended above the communion table. In the sanctuary, the wreath was suspended above and slightly in front of the lectern. These wreaths were over 36 inches in diameter with a clear plastic "bottom" that was used to support the candles. The candles...ah, the candles...were 6 inch tall pillar candles that were placed inside of clear glass goblets.

If you are wondering how the glass goblets were secured to the wreath or the plastic base...don't. They weren't secured in any way...

Imagine, if you will, the 2nd Sunday of Advent last year. You are seated in the chapel. All is calm. All is bright. As the lector reads some verses of scripture and a few notes about the lighting of the 2nd candle, a gentleman with a long acolyte taper comes in to light the Advent Candles. He reaches, and strains, and even stands on his tip-toes...trying to see the wick that he is supposed to light. Seeing his plight, one of the ushers decides to help... by tipping the Advent Wreath downward so that he can see the candle wicks.

And that's when it all came crashing down.

Glass goblets and pillar candles came cascading down from their perch above the communion table. And mingled with the gasps and cries of the parishioners were the sounds of candles breaking and glass shattering...

After a few moments of stunned silence, we gathered up the broken pieces of hope, peace, love, and joy. We placed some votive candles on the communion table, and we continued with the service by reading the prayer printed in our bulletins. And, if there was any doubt in our minds that God has a sense of humor, that was quickly dispelled... for the prayer included these words:

"And when we get caught up in all of the anxiety and chaos that this season can sometimes bring, remind us that you are Lord of all."

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